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Jack Conklin reportedly “ahead of schedule” in his rehab from injury

Cleveland’s All-Pro right tackle suffered a torn patellar tendon in Week 12 but his rehab is going well, according to his agent.

Cleveland Browns v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns dealt with their fair share of injuries during the 2021 season, most notably with the torn labrum suffered by quarterback Baker Mayfield that seriously impacted his play.

While not as high profile (or as polarizing), losing right tackle Jack Conklin to a torn patellar tendon in his right knee was just as damaging as Conklin missed the final five games of the season. The Browns tried to fill the All-Pro size hole left by Conklin with Blake Hance and James Hudson III, who tried their best but were clearly lacking.

There was a spot of good news about Conklin on Wednesday as his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said that Conklin’s rehab is “ahead of schedule” and that the six-year veteran and two-time All-Pro is “absolutely” expected to be ready to go when the season starts this September, according to Mary Kay Cabot at cleveland.com.

It is fair to question how impartial Rosenhaus is when it comes to talking about one of his clients who is coming off a major injury and entering the final year of their contract, which calls for Conklin to make a base salary of $12 million, with a cap hit of $15 million and a dead cap value of $9 million, according to spotrac.com.

There is also the reality that Conklin’s injury is not an easy one to recover from for a player.

It is a few years old, but a 2016 study by Harry Mai, an MD candidate at the Charles Drew/University of California Los Angeles Medical Education Program in Manhattan Beach, Calif., puts a little bit of a damper on Rosenhaus’ enthusiasm.

In the study, Mai and his team looked at 559 NFL players who underwent orthopedic procedures from 2003 to 2013. The procedures studied were ACL reconstruction, Achilles tendon repair, patellar tendon repair, cervical disc surgery, lumbar discectomy, sports hernia repair, knee microfracture, open reduction-internal fixation of radius, ulna, and ankle, and lower extremity long bone fractures.

The study found that NFL players whose injuries involve tendons and ligaments, like Conklin, fared worse than players who dealt with bone injuries.

One thing working in Conklin’s favor is the level of care he will receive as an NFL player, which is something Mai highlighted in a 2016 story on the MedPage Today website:

“These are elite athletes whose livelihoods depend upon return to sport, and these data represent the ‘gold standard’ for orthopedic care, as these athletes receive the most extensive and top level of care. Multiple papers have demonstrated the shear forces on the knee joint that NFL athletes are subject to, especially on artificial turf. In a reconstructed tendon, these shear forces can lead to failure as well as reduction in speed, change of direction, and cutting ability.”

That might not sound very promising, but medical technology has certainly advanced since Mai’s study, and as with all injuries it is best to leave any diagnoses to the medical experts.